Articles

City of Denver Launches First Pilot Program to Quantify the Impact of Driving Behavior on Fuel Consumption and Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Driving Change Initiative leverages Internet-based management system and on-board device to capture driving data to help fleet and individual drivers reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

by / March 12, 2008
Driving Change
Driving Change, the world's first vehicular greenhouse gas (GHG) management and reduction pilot program, is being launched today at an event led by Denver Mayor John W. Hickenlooper and Driving Change developers, stakeholders, and participants. In an effort to identify new ways for drivers to address GHG emissions stemming from vehicles, Driving Change measures the environmental impact of driving behavior.

Motor vehicles are the fastest growing source of CO2 (carbon dioxide) production, according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Through the installation of accelerometers that connect to internal vehicle systems and the use of an Internet-based GHG management system, the Driving Change initiative allows for the real-time measurement of a number of driving behaviors, including idling, speeding, fast stops and hard braking, which have a direct impact on fuel consumption. Performance reports, viewable via the Internet, help to educate drivers on how their driving patterns can potentially impact their individual carbon footprint.

"Driving Change can help City employees and Denver residents reduce fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions simply by changing the way we drive," Mayor Hickenlooper said. "We're excited that Denver has been selected as the pilot community nationally for this program. It blends innovation and personal responsibility, making it an excellent fit with our Greenprint Denver agenda for proactively reducing our impact on the environment."

This unique public and private partnership provides both city employees and private citizens an opportunity to set an example of what is possible. By May 2008, Driving Change expects to have a total of 400 private and public vehicles involved in the study. Expected to set standards for cities around the world to follow, the goal of the pilot program is to determine if there is a direct, measurable and positive correlation between driving behavior and CO2 emissions.

"Driving Change pilot program results will help evaluate the impact of driving behavior and empower drivers with a tool to reduce vehicle emissions from behind the wheel of their current vehicles," said Jeff Wojahn, president of EnCana Oil & Gas (USA) Inc., lead sponsor of the Driving Change pilot program. "Our sponsorship of this very exciting initiative underscores the commitment of EnCana as a company, and its employees as individuals, to reducing our environmental impact. Over twenty EnCana employees-including me-are participating in this exciting pilot."

According to the EPA, a gallon of gasoline produces 19.4 pounds of CO2. While the pilot program does not directly measure GHG emissions, it will attempt, for the first time ever, to reveal that driving style does have an impact on the environment. For example, idling (where a vehicle is running while parked), is believed to consume one cup of fuel every five minutes. The cumulative effect of idling is estimated to result in the burning of 1.4 billion gallons of gasoline, emitting 13 million tons of CO2. Rapid acceleration and hard braking can lower gas mileage by as much as 20%. The ability to measure and review idle time, rapid acceleration and hard braking is designed to help both individual and fleet drivers to see the impact of their behavior on the level of emissions for which they are responsible.

In Denver, where automobile emissions account for approximately 30% of GHG emissions, Driving Change puts the Mile High City yet again at the forefront of implementing environmental initiatives. Denver Public Works has been a pioneer in the "greening" of its fleet since 1993 when the City created the first Green Fleet program in the nation. The program has served as a model for several other cities, both nationally and internationally.

Today, Denver's fleet includes 144 hybrid-electric vehicles, which illustrates the city's commitment to hybrid technology as a viable solution to reduce air pollution and fuel costs. In May of 2008, Denver will become one of the first cities in the nation to acquire a hybrid-hydraulic trash truck, which is expected to produce a 25% to 50% increase

in miles per gallon achieved and reduce emissions. Denver is currently retrofitting on-road and off-road equipment with diesel oxidation catalysts and crank case ventilation systems to reduce emissions and clean the air in Denver neighborhoods. The City and County of Denver also utilizes alternative fuels and operates more than 800 units on B20 biodiesel.

"Driving Change has the potential to assist Denver in reaching our greenhouse gas emissions and fuel reduction goals," said Michele Weingarden, Director of Greenprint Denver, the City's sustainability office. "The program is a creative way for Denver residents to reduce their personal carbon footprints by employing small behavioral changes that can have a lasting impact on our community."

Driving Change utilizes technology developed by Enviance, Inc. and Cartasite, Inc. Two Cartasite-developed measuring devices, an accelerometer and a modem, are installed in a vehicle in approximately 30 minutes and connect to the internal vehicle systems. The devices transmit electronic data using cellular wireless networks to a data center where it is analyzed by Enviance's Internet-based GHG management system and graphed to produce personalized results in the form of a custom dashboard. Participants have access to their vehicle's emissions information via a secure website which allows them to monitor their progress.

More information on the Driving Change pilot program is available at drivingchange.org.